Forgetful Dory unforgettable

The most interesting character to emerge from 2003’s blockbuster Finding Nemo was Dory, the blue Tang fish with chronic memory loss, voiced by Ellen Degeneres.

Despite her obvious disability, Dory is able to make and keep friends, achieve her goals and help others see their potential, qualities that make her one of the most likeable and unique heroines to emerge in recent years.

The story picks up one year after Finding Nemo ends. Dory is living happily with Nemo (Hayden Rolence) and his father Marlin (Albert Brooks) when a hit on the head causes her to start having flash backs of her childhood and her parents (Diane Keaton and Eugene Levy).

The memories are fragmented, but she becomes compelled to return to her home and find her family. As she simply puts it, “I miss ‘em."

Yet, another trans-ocean adventure ensues with apparent lightning speed (who knew sea turtles could swim so fast?) and the three friends find themselves in front of the “jewel of Morro Bay”, Marine Life Institute where Dory was born (watch for an amusing recurring bit about Sigourney Weaver).

Of course, a Disney story can’t possibly be that simple; Nemo and Marlin get separated from Dory as soon as they reach their destination.

She gets tangled in a plastic six-pack ring, is scooped up by marine rescue workers and is whisked away into the facility for presumed rehabilitation. The film now earns its title as Nemo and Marlin attempt to find Dory as she attempts to find her lost parents.

Once inside the facility, we are introduced to an escaped octopus, Hank (brilliantly voiced by Ed O’Neill), who happens to be missing one leg (making him technically a septopus as Dory cogently observes).

Hank has one goal and one goal only — a life of leisure at the Cleveland Aquarium where selected rehabilitated marine life are sent.

Dory has been tagged to go on to Cleveland, so, in exchange for her coveted yellow tag, Hank grudgingly agrees to help her find her parents. Fortunately for Dory, Hank is not only a dextrous escape artist, but is also a chameleon who can change colour to blend into any background and can even drive a truck when required.

All of the voices are exceptionally well cast but Degeneres is nothing short of brilliant in this role and the character she has created is the glue that holds everything together. Dory is an innocent and Degeneres’ delivery is endearing and absolutely spot-on. One can only hope that she will resume her acting career at some point.

Some additional characters are on hand to help Dory, Nemo and Marlin end well: Destiny (Kaitlin Olson), the whale shark with terrible vision; Bailey (Ty Burrell), the beluga whale with defective sonar abilities; and Fluke and Rudder (Idris Elba and Dominic West), two hilariously cantankerous sea lions.

Despite a rather preposterous chase scene climax that stretches even a cartoon-level willingness to disbelieve, Finding Dory is a lovely film.

It's full amazing animation and great belly laughs, but also contains touching messages of enduring familial love and dogged determination. In a sharp contrast to Finding Nemo, there are a few fairly heavy messages in this film regarding feelings of inadequacy, loss and fear.

One striking moment occurs in a series of flashbacks where Dory is seen as a child apologizing repeatedly for various mistakes and blunders that really drive home the notion that she is fully aware she is not quite right and believes that everything that goes wrong is her fault.

Despite her cheerful and lighthearted approach to life, we learn that she is riddled with guilt that she didn’t listen to her parents and allowed herself to get too close to the undertow that took her away from her home in the first place.

Most characters in this movie are damaged in some way and suffer from feelings of inadequacy and anxiety, which can open up a great topic of conversation with children after about the various challenges they faced and how they were able to overcome them.

Be sure to come early as there is a phenomenal six-minute short film you don’t want to miss about a baby sand piper and his fledgling attempts in the ocean.

Piper is a remarkable piece of animation and is reminiscent of the 1986 short Luxo Jr. (the first short Pixar did with the lamp). The message is rich and lovely and makes one hope that the studio will spend more of its time creating new worlds rather than endless sequels entertaining though they may be.

There is a terrific version of Unforgettable over the end credits sung by artist Sia (really the only music in the movie and surprisingly adult).

If you stay right until the end of the long and actually quite boring credits, you will be rewarded with another little bit of amusement, but if you have kids and they are getting cranky, skip it.

There is some blatant pulling at heart strings, but some strings need pulling every now and then; Finding Dory is worth the journey.

I give this film four out of five hearts.

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About the Author

Kim Foreman-Rhindress is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City and London Western Conservatory of music for piano and voice. 

Kim has been performing in theatre and film for over 30 years in Canada, NYC, Palm Beach, Los Angeles, and the Netherlands. She has written several plays which have been produced in Canada and the U.S., and is the founder of Kelowna Voice Lab - helping people find their voice, be it singing or acting. 

A working musician, she performs regularly in Kelowna with her husband, Jim Rhindress, in an acoustic duo Smitten, and with her vintage trio Kitsch 'n Sync.  

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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